We’ve all had those days – days where nothing seems to go right and the best option seems to be to stay in bed and hope for a “Law & Order” marathon on TNT. As it happens, I had one of those days last week where in the span of 24 hours the following happened:
I dropped my iPhone and it was destroyed (see picture to the right)
After acquiring a new phone, the Apple iCloud back up failed which meant I had to rebuild my phone one information nugget at a time.
Facebook stopped allowing me to share links and pictures due to a “malware issue” on my computer. I ran several additional malware removal programs to augment the one I always use only to find that I had no malware. Even so, Facebook blocked my account from sharing articles (like this one) or links on their site. Further research showed that this was a glitch in their software and was corrected after about three days.
All the HD channels on DirecTV stopped working due to an “HDMI cable issue.” After speaking with customer service, I replaced the cable as directed yet the problem continued. After a second conversation with customer service, they determined that the receiver was broken and they would send a new one. This meant the Petrie family enjoyed ultra-low def (ULD) television for four days.
That’s quite a bit of disappointment – let alone frustration – for 24 hours. Because I’m human, I allowed that frustration to completely impact my mood: I was cranky, curt, and downright persnickety with just about anyone who had the misfortune to come in contact with me.
After a bit of isolated reflection, I recognized that I was allowing myself to get angry over things I couldn’t possibly control – and it was an enormous waste of energy. When this realization finally hit me, it was as if the stress was magically taken from me and I was able to simply enjoy life again, even though many of the technology issues continued.
Many of us do the same things in our business lives: we allow things outside of our control to completely – and negatively – influence our moods. When things go wrong, the only thing we control is the space between what goes wrong and how we react to it. By fully accepting and owning that reality, we can avoid burning calories by complaining and getting angry and instead can focus on a solution or a workaround.
In my personal situation, I was able to get a working phone within an hour of the incident and was able to “start fresh” rather than just port over all my information – some of which I wanted, some that I didn’t. The Facebook issue was frustrating, but I was able to create a workaround and my sense is that most people didn’t realize there was an issue at all. And having to watch TV in ULD is the epitome of a first-world problem and not that big of a deal.
In the end, none of these were worth the negative energy I initially spent on them. It neither reversed what happened nor did it make me feel any better about it. Only after I accepted that needed to focus on the things I could control (my response, my anger, and my attitude) was I able to move on.
Don’t try to control what is out of your control – it’s a fool’s mission. When something goes wrong, the only control you have is the space between the event and your reaction to it. Control it well.